~ Nandor Shaffer
Though October brings with it the cooler weather, the comics that hit the stands were as hot as ever. It was a month of finales and exciting twists as we were presented with the very last issue of the current Captain America title (returning in November rebranded as All-New Captain America which will be following Cap’s longtime partner Falcon as he assumes the mantle of the Sentinel of Liberty himself), the anticipated climactic clash between our Flash and Future Flash in The Flash #35, as well as the continuing mysterious troubles the Fantastic Four are facing in their own book, and much more. Marvel Comics’ Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier series debuted this month, also, to such pure delight of yours truly. In addition, Whovians picking up Titan Comics’ new Doctor Who comics couldn’t be disappointed with the ever impressive quality of each issue thus far. With this said, October was a fine month to be a comic book reader.
But out of these and other nominees, which were the best? With much debate, October’s winners are now in.
Cover of the Month Award: Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1
If you’re perhaps familiar with James Buchanan Barnes and his history in comics, you know he’s had quite a life, to say the least. As Bucky, he fought alongside Captain America as his iconic sidekick in World War II, then, at the time thought dead, became the ruthless, tragic assassin known as the Winter Soldier during the Cold War, until finding redemption as Captain America when Steve Rogers no longer was among the living. This time around on the side of the good guys, Barnes is the Winter Soldier once again and what makes the cover for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 so interesting is that it portrays, very uniquely mind you, glimpses of his history through the faces of his many aliases. I don’t know how to describe it but this sophisticated painted piece by Marco Rudy is, simply, really fascinating. With Winter Soldier in the middle, his former identities wrap around him to brilliant effect. I’ve never seen anything like it before, which is almost impossible to say nowadays with all of the excellent talent out there in the comic book industry.
Art of the Month Award: Buck Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1
Out of the plethora of words, there is only one I’ve found to describe artist Marco Rudy’s phenomenal style—psychedelic; and psychedelic in the best of sense. This book is staggeringly stunning. It’s pure artwork if I’ve ever seen it as every page is a privilege to look at. Done by just Rudy himself, an admirable feat no less, his work jumps out at you with power. The panels are seamlessly interwoven with beautiful sights, faces, and gorgeous colors, filling up each page to the max. It’s hard to tell how the creative process proceeds smoothly because of what is shown and how much is shown on each page. The only downside to Rudy’s art is that, since it’s very creative, it can be a bit difficult to follow what’s going on in perfect sequence. This is no way diminishes the masterful art that is here, however. Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 is worth picking up for the art alone and as long as Rudy stays on as leading artist, this will probably be the best looking comic book currently coming out in comic stores everywhere.
Story of the Month Award: Avengers #37 (“Archangel”)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Crossing over with New Avengers, the Illuminati are on the run, and in Avengers #37 the hunt is on. Witnessing what will happen eight months from now regarding Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, we see how far Steve Rogers, now devoid of his super-soldier serum, will go to make sure the Illuminati, made up of once close friends, are captured and detained for keeping the world ignorant of the looming multiversal end of everything. Here in this issue we get a better taste of how much has changed for our starring characters. Steve Rogers is bitter at always seeming to be one step behind the Illuminati and we’re also given hints and clues of curious events that occurred in the past which we have yet to see explained. With memorable moments and an unforeseen twist in the last couple of pages, Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic is ever growing, and is ever keeping you on your toes.
Issue of the Month Award: Uncanny Avengers #25 (“The Low Road”)
Artist: Daniel Acuna
In Uncanny Avengers #25, the stage is set. This is the penultimate issue before Rick Remender’s Avengers & X-Men: Axis event and you could cut the tension with a knife. Pitting the Uncanny Avengers side-by-side with Magneto against the infamous, diabolical Red Skull and his S-Men, this is a battle issue with high stakes hanging in the balance. Our team of heroes is trying desperately to put a stop to the Red Skull’s menacing plot to encamp every mutant in the world, but at what cost? Scarlet Witch fights within herself as she watches her father, Magneto, turn into the thing she hoped he would never become again. Magneto is definitely the show-stealer in this issue as he is written perfectly, coming across as enraged and entirely finished with the actions taken against his mutant brothers and sisters. What he does in this issue took me by total surprise. Artist Daniel Acuna’s snappish artwork is great, bruising the book with darkness and identity. His lighting is exceptional and he carries the story and fight scenes in good fashion. Uncanny Avengers #25 is both shocking and highly applaudable, ringing it in as the most satisfying comic book of the month.
Thanks for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for November’s Comic Book Awards! Moreover, the end of November will mark the end of my second year of doing these monthly awards so be ready for what will be my second annual COMIC BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS, which I will be revealing the winners for throughout December. Until then, I, and hopefully you, will continue to be reading comics!